Croatia v Greece Predictions, Betting Tips and Previews
November 06, 2017
Stadion Maksimir - World Cup Qualification Play-Off
Croatia welcome Greece to Zagreb on Thursday night, with the hosts bidding to qualify for back-to-back tournaments for the first time since 2006.
Despite Croatia being the favourites to qualify via two legs against Greece, their visitors actually have the better record in recent meetings between the two sides.
The pair were drawn together in qualification for Euro 2012, and after a 0-0 draw in Croatia, Greece won 2-0 in Athens to stretch their unbeaten run over the Croatians to four games.
Croatia have all of their big names back in action for these crunch games, with Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic the only noticeable absentee through injury.
His Real team mate Luka Modric will captain the hosts, alongside Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic, Liverpool's Dejan Lovren and Serie A quartet Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Perisic, Marcelo Brozovic and Nikola Kalinic.
Greecce will be looking to their strength in defence to boost them in Zagreb, with skipper Vasilis Torosidis, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Kostas Manolas all named in the squad, alongside former Fulham striker Kostas Mitroglou.
Croatia v Greece Preview and Predictions
Croatia find themselves in an unusual situation heading into this game, with boss Zlatko Dalic onnly being in the job a month after the shock dismissal of Ante Cacic.
The Croatian FA fired Cacic after the team's indifferent performances in qualification, with Dalic coming in just before their final game against Ukraine, which he won and secured a play-off spot.
This instability could be Croatia's undoing, as Greece have been stubborn in their qualification group - losing just twice to seal second spot.
This game is unlikely to be a thriller, but Croatia's star quality could be countered by Greece's defensive strength, with the visitors looking to bring a favourable result back to Athens for the return leg.
With that in mind a draw looks to be a good option, currently priced at 7/2, also give the respective goal returns of both sides - Greece with four in their last five games, and Croatia with exactly the same record - this could be a low scorer, and an under 2.5 goals bet is priced at 8/13.
A 1-1 draw at 15/2
Whilst Croatia have the better individuals, Greece are collectively strong and there is a feeling of inconsistency around Croatia at the moment. Greece will be looking to take advantage of this and give themselves every opportunity to win the tie in the second leg in Athens.
Mario Mandzukic to score first at 10/3
Juventus striker Mandzukic is the highest international goalscorer in the Croatia side, and has started the season well with Juventus - scoring four goals in all competitions, and he will be keen to qualify for what could be his last tournament.